Ownership, Operation of Halls

By Pat Sturdy,
National Legal Counsel

 

Recently, there have been several inquiries regarding what rules a division must follow in connection with the ownership and operation of a hall. The requirements for the owners and operation of a hall can be found within the National Constitution at Article XVI, which expressly forbids a division, county or state board from owning, leasing, managing or operating a hall. The National Constitution further provides that a division, county or state board must form a separate legal entity (corporation or limited liability) company which may own, lease, manage or operate a hall. The documents forming this separate legal entity must be submitted to the National President for review. The elected officers of the jurisdiction where the hall is located are responsible for ensuring compliance with these requirements.

Additionally, any hall or building may not be owned or operated using the name AOH, Hibernian Hall or any similar variation without proof that each superior jurisdiction is named as an additional insured. Each year the jurisdiction using the name AOH, Hibernian Hall or similar variation must provide proof to the National President that it has the name of each superior jurisdiction as an additional insured on its insurance policy. Furthermore, the jurisdiction operating a hall shall keep financial records separate and apart from the books and records of the jurisdiction of the Order.

The purpose of the prohibition contained within the National Constitution against division’s owning and operating a building/hall in its own name, is to protect the AOH from the potential liability associated with owning and operating a building/hall. Failure and/refusal to comply with the National Constitution is a violation of the Oath an officer takes when he is installed, and could result in their expulsion from the Order. Likewise, failure and/or refusal to comply with the National Constitution is a violation of the member’s oath when they joined the AOH, and could also result in the member’s expulsion from the Order.

Furthermore, the Division’s failure and/or refusal to comply with the National Constitution could result in the Division’s loss of its Charter, which would mean that the Division loses its tax exempt status. The implications for loss of tax exempt status is that there could be serious financial penalties imposed upon the Division, its Officers and its Members.

Post-Convention Constitution Report

By Patrick Sturdy

I would like to formally recognize and thank the following members of the Constitutional Committee for all of their hard work during the preceding two years: Chuck Curran (Virginia), Dick Thompson (Massachusetts), Tom O’Donnell (New York), Dan Devinney (Pennsylvania), Paul Gowdy (Michigan) and George Clough (Missouri). I would also like to thank the membership for the patients and understanding shown during the debate on the proposed Constitutional Amendments. The following is a very brief summary of the amendments adopted by the Membership at the National Constitution at the 2014 Biennial Convention is St. Louis, Missouri. The complete text of each amendment will be available in the revised National Constitution, which will be available for download from the National Website shortly. The membership adopted 15 different General Revisions to the National Constitution. These General Revisions do not change the meaning of the Constitution, instead, they merely clarify language and remove duplicate language, etc.

Additionally, over the two day period in which the Constitution was discussed, the membership adopt seventeen Specific Revisions to the National Constitution. These Specific Revisions change the rights and responsibility of the membership, and are summarized as follows: (1) Divisions are no longer required, but may have regular committees on finance, employment, entertainment, Irish History, sick, publicity, Catholic Action and such other committees as may be necessary; (2) A member is not considered to be in good standing if he previously resigned from another division while charges were pending against him until a final adjudication of those charges which absolve him of the allegations contained within the charge(s); (3) The National President may now appoint members positions as he deems appropriate, however these appointees are voting members of the National Board, and any expenses are subject to prior approval of the National President; (4) All Elected and Appointed Officers of each jurisdiction are now required to attend Conventions of their respective jurisdiction, unless excused by the President of that jurisdiction; (5) The District of Columbia was recognized as a State for purpose of the National Constitution; (6) Divisions located within Cities not within a County may now form County Boards; (7) An amendment was adopted governing notice of National Board meetings; (8) Language related to an Ethnic Understanding Committee was eliminated from the Constitution.; (9) The membership also voted to adopt rules governing the distribution of minutes; (10) An amendment defining the requirements for members eligible to be appointed to the position of Veteran Affairs was adopted; (12) The Convention also modified language in the Constitution which required Conventions to always begin on Wednesday; (13) The term 2/3 in sessions was defined to mean 2/3 of the 1/3 necessary to conduct business; (14) The membership also adopted language which addresses limitations that are imposed upon each jurisdiction in entering into agreement which bind superior jurisdictions; (15) Another change include the adoption of language which allows for the creation of Hibernian Rifle Units as separate legal entities; (16) Rules on elections was modified with clarifying language; (17) the National Treasurer is required to have in place an accounting system which is in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures and provide certain reports to the membership.

Report of the National Legal Counsel

State Conventions are now occurring across the Country. As part of these Conventions, many States are adopting new by-laws or revising old by-laws. Article XX, Section 1 of the National Constitution provides that each State, County and/or Division Board may adopt by-laws to govern the transaction of business, as may be necessary. Each jurisdiction, adopting and/or revising their by-laws is required to submit those by-laws to the next higher jurisdiction for certification that no conflicts exists with the by-laws of the next higher level. Each jurisdiction reviewing by-laws is required to submit those by-laws to the next higher level, until the National President has reviewed those by-laws. For example, if a division adopts a set of by-laws, the division is required to submit the by-laws to the county board. After certification that no conflict exists with the County Board’s by-laws, the County Board is required to submit those by-laws to the State Board, after certification that no conflict exists with the State Board by-laws, the State Board is required to submit those by-laws to the National Board. Pursuant to the National Constitution, by-laws are not effective until they have been approved by the National President. To begin the process of National Board review, all by-laws adopted and/or revised should be submitted to the National Legal Counsel’s Office at 39797 Village Woode Lane, Novi, Michigan 48375. They will then be submitted to National President Brendan Moore for approval and/or rejection.

The Constitutional Committee has received a number of proposed resolutions which update and/or modify the National Constitution. In late October, the Constitutional Committee will be meeting to finalize its review and report of the proposed updates. Any member who is interested in reviewing the proposed resolutions may do so by visiting the National Website at http://www.aoh.com/constitutional-review/ Access the site is restricted by a username and password. Drop me an email at psturdy@twmi.rr.com, with your Name, State, Division and Membership number and I will forward the username and password to you. All members of the Order are entitled to review of the proposed resolutions.

Legal Counsel- Patrick Sturdy

An amicus curia brief has been filed on behalf of the AOH in the case of Moloney v. United States et. al., Case No. 12-627. This case began when the U.S. Attorney has subpoenaed interviews conducted between 2001 and 2006 as part of the Belfast Project, an oral history project held by the Burns Library, recounting a period known as “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland that lasted from 1969-1998. The interviews were sealed, and interview participants were promised that their interviews would remain sealed until after their death, because of the dangers. The U.S. District Court Judge, after reviewing portions of the interviews ordered them produced. This decision was appealed to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled: “The choice to investigate criminal activity belongs to the government and is not subject to veto by academic researchers.” The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary Stay prohibiting release of the interviews to the British Government.  The AOH is working with a coalition which also include the Irish American Unity Conference and the Brehon Law Society to oppose the release of the interviews. Pro Bono counsel representing the coalition has prepared and filed an amicus curie brief. The amicus curie allows the coalition to provided additional legal and factual support against the release of the interviews.

Additionally, the updates to the National Constitution approved at the National Convention this past summer in Turning Stone, New York have been completed. The updated National Constitution is available on the National Website at:

 

http://www.aoh.com/national-constitution/

National Legal Counsel

Since the introduction of the new AOH membership application, I have had a few questions about the requirements for membership.

Article IV Section 1 of the National Constitution, letter “C”, reads: “Be a practicing Catholic”. The “Roman” has been removed. It was done to make sure that anyone otherwise eligible who belongs to one of the Churches in Communion with the Church of Rome with the Holy Father as supreme Pontiff is eligible for membership. There are about 24 different Rites in the Catholic Church.

Also, letter “F”, of the same Section of Article IV reads: “Adopted legally by those of Irish ancestry”. Thus an adopted son of a person who was otherwise eligible is now eligible if he meets the other qualifications for membership.

I hope this answers the questions regarding the new application for membership. If there still are questions, I’d be happy to answer them. BookoDays@aol.com

National Legal Counsel Announces Appointments

George J. Clough, Jr. the National Legal Counsel has announced the following four appointments to be Associate National Legal Counsels: Pat Study of Michigan, John Fitzmorris of Louisiana, Kevin McKernan of New York and Dan Denveiney of Pennsylvania. Clough praised the new additions stating, “These Brothers are available to assist members who might have legal questions and will advise me on National Legal matters. Pat did an excellent job as Chairman of the Resolutions Committee and John served as Parliamentarian at the Convention and did a great job. Dan was a valuable asset with his advice for Kevin Donohue the Chairman of the Constitution Committee.”

Legal Counsel

George J. Clough, Jr. the National Legal Counsel has announced the following four appointments to be Associate National Legal Counsels: Pat Study of Michigan, John Fitzmorris of Louisiana, Kevin McKernan of New York and Dan Denveiney of Pennsylvania. Clough praised the new additions stating, “These Brothers are available to assist members who might have legal questions and will advise me on National Legal matters. Pat did an excellent job as Chairman of the Resolutions Committee and John served as Parliamentarian at the Convention and did a great job. Dan was a valuable asset with his advice for Kevin Donohue the Chairman of the Constitution Committee.”